Everything changed in 1996. The federal law, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, created national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. While it was designed to protect patient data, it complicated practitioners and Business Associates operations.
Being HIPAA compliant can be tricky, costly, and overwhelming for small medical providers or Business Associates. Functional, operational, and technical requirements are challenging to correctly implement; leaving patients ePHI (Electronic Protected Health Information) exposed due complexity and costs. Daunting regulations mixed with constantly changing technical environments challenge even the most seasoned compliance officers and support teams.
What does it mean to be HIPAA Compliant?
Ensure Patient Security. It’s not enough to simply use solutions to store your ePHI, you need to ensure your entire environment is secure.
- Includes all data, all solutions, all hardware, all networking, and all communication methods in your HIPAA program.
- Be strategic, right size your program for your organization.
- Adopt a strategic approach to cybersecurity and technology
- Focuses on business/patient enablement, not a series of rules restricting systems.
Ensure Patient Data Portability. Basic requirements establish the need to exchange data in the standardized format between systems allowing for patient data exchange.
- Read beyond the definition to discover threaded requirements such as “need to know” rules and disclosures.Additionally,
- Portability requirements include data in transit protections.
Know the HIPAA Legal Requirements – It’s important to know, implement, and conduct periodic assessments to ensure that you are compliant. Failure to comply carries significant financial penalties based on the severity, intent, and knowledge; fines range from a few hundred to almost two million dollars. Full rules and penalty criteria are established through
- The Enforcement Final Rule of 2006
- The Ominibus Rule of 2013
- HITECH (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) of 2013.
Create a Strategic HIPAA Program – Your formal program should be wholistic, include all the activities within your organization, not just patient care.
- Include HIPAA based Policy, Practices, Procedures, and standards to achieve HIPAA control elements.
- Don’t forget other documents required to implement policies such as Acceptable Use Policies, Vendor Management, Business Associate Management, Backup and Recovery, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and Incident response.
Strategic Partnerships. Do not attempt to create a strategic HIPAA program yourself. Align with HIPAA service providers; providers that fully understand and practice HIPAA compliance.
- Include using software or SaaS providers built for HIPAA purpose.
- Leverage a partner to conduct periodic technical and functional assessments.
- Leverage a third-party training partner that has specific HIPAA curriculum and the ability to add your specific training requirements, train constantly.
Next Steps. Become strategic by aligning your business, operations, cybersecurity, and technical to HIPAA requirements in a single plan. Conduct a HIPAA based technical and functional assessment to identify weaknesses then plan for remediation. Connect with us today and maintain compliance with the help from an ISOutsource Trusted Advisor.